Looking back at 20 years of Colorado Matters

November 12, 2021
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Colorado Matters debuted in 2001. It was conceived of as a space where Coloradans could have meaningful conversations about their rapidly changing state. Days after the show took to the air in early September of that year, the mission was put to the test as the attacks of 9/11 threw everything into limbo. After wall-to-wall special coverage from NPR and the BBC, Colorado Matters “found a way to have some discussion about ‘what is the impact of 9/11 on Colorado?’” remembers founding host Dan Drayer.

In the two decades since, Colorado Matters has continued to document change across the state and the West. Whether it’s our regular interviews with Colorado governors (there have been four administrations since we began) or capturing Coloradans’ grief and resilience in the face of mass shooting, natural disasters and the pandemic — and finding moments of joy along the way.

When I joined the show as a host in 2005, I committed myself to these principles. I am part of a team of producers, hosts, and editors who are connected to their community and passionate about understanding it better.

As they say, it is hard to pick a favorite child. Nevertheless, we have assembled a short list of favorite interviews over the years — produced by this talented team. We present these interviews in no particular order.


After the cheers, an NFL wife struggles with husband’s mental health

Produced by Anthony Cotton

Listen to the story

Producer Anthony Cotton, who used to work at Sports Illustrated, has covered the lasting impact of head trauma in football. In this compelling interview, we hear how such injuries have reverberated in one family.

Go to original story.

Grampa Jerry’s clown museum

Produced by Michelle P. Fulcher

Listen to the story

In this conversation about a roadside attraction in Arriba, Colorado, we learned that cattle can cough up hairballs. Longtime producer Michelle P. Fulcher and host Ryan Warner stopped by the clown museum as they travelled the state for a series about The Great Depression.

Go to original story.

Rick Reilly on why his home life led him to sports writing, and much more

Produced by Rachel Estabrook

Listen to the story

In this tender conversation, a celebrated sportswriter has an epiphany about his childhood. Producer Rachel Estabrook, who is now CPR’s news director, has a knack for finding humanity in sports coverage.

Go to original story.

Living through the Indigenous relocation from reservations to cities

By Avery Lill

Listen to the story


Something happened in 1952 that still reverberates across the U.S. today. The Bureau of Indian Affairs initiated a program to move Native Americans off reservations and into cities. Indigenous people on reservations were promised good jobs in cities, but the BIA had ulterior motives: to assimilate Native Americans. In 1956, Doris Goodteacher moved from the Santee Sioux Nation to Denver, joining citizens of more than 200 tribal nations who now call Denver home. Goodteacher spoke with Lill about her experience.

Go to original story.

Transgender pastor had to rebuild after coming out

Co-produced by Carla Jimenez

Listen to the story

Rev. Paula Stone Williams had not planned to sing in her interview with Ryan Warner. After her transition, she has struggled to come to terms with her voice. But she did sing. And Ryan had some unexpected moments as well in this episode of our book club “Turn The Page.”

Go to original story.

Guess what Colorado: The Front Range isn’t where you think it is

By Ryan Warner

Listen to the story

“The Front Range” is a term that people throw around all the time, but what does it really mean? Colorado wondered, and we found the answer.

Go to original story.

The Lumineers on fame, grief and how the band got its name

Produced by Stephanie Wolf

Listen to the story

Denver-based folk-rock band The Lumineers did some Googling while they were in our studio with Ryan Warner and found out they were a bigger deal than they thought. Lush musical interludes are sprinkled throughout this conversation, produced by ballet dancer-turned-radio-journalist Stephanie Wolf.

Go to original story.

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be a journey through self-discovery and determination

Produced by Andrea Dukakis

Listen to the story

Alzheimer's forced Rebecca Chopp to step down as chancellor at the University of Denver in 2019. But that was just the beginning of a life change that saw her embrace art, singing and a determination to raise awareness and to make sure she was in charge of her destiny, not the disease. In an interview produced by Andrea Dukakis, Colorado Matters’ longest-serving producer and host, Chopp shares how dementia is changing her life.

Go to original story.

How one Holocaust survivor found his way from Auschwitz to Boulder

By Michael de Yoanna

Listen to the story

Colorado Matters made a commitment to document the stories of local Holocaust survivors before those stories were lost forever. Walter Plywaski, of Boulder, offers a meditation on loss.

Go to original story.

Golden isn’t named for gold (and other stories about Colorado place names)

By Ryan Warner

Listen to the story

Jules Verne’s 1864 novel “A Journey to the Center of the Earth” makes a surprise appearance in this conversation about how places in Colorado got their names.

Go to original story.

When segregation ruled Colorado baseball

By Zachary Barr

Listen to the story

The Brown Bombers were an all-Black baseball team that shook up Colorado Springs and won the city league championship. Two members of the team, Joe Morgan and Jesse Vaughan, recall the summer of 1949 in this conversation produced by Zachary Barr.

Go to original story.

Here’s what happened: my hairy sister

By Andrea Dukakis

Listen to the story

We asked Coloradans to tell us their wildest true stories in our series, “Here’s What Happened.” Andrea Dukakis found a woman who grew up with a chimpanzee. Need we say more?!

Go to original story.

‘The thing that makes this feel different now is everyone’s listening’: portraits of Denver protesters

By Kendelyn Ouellette and Avery Lill

Listen to the story

Thousands have protested in front of Colorado's Capitol in the weeks following the death of George Floyd. The sizes of the crowds and the specific demands have varied, but the themes of social justice and racial equity are constant.

George Floyd was buried in Houston on June 9. Before the vigil held for him in Denver's Civic Center Park, photographer Kendelyn Ouellette took portraits of those who attended. Each person offered their perspective on the momentum of the movement.

Go to original story.

You care.

You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up.  The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!